Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire figures on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list

Leaders in education and children's services, a host of unsung community stalwarts and a former royal protection officer are among the latest Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire figures to be honoured by the Queen.

The Birthday Honours list, released today, recognises a wide range of local people who have dedicated their lives to improving those of others.

A familiar face in the worlds of education and agriculture said he was overwhelmed by the 'phenomenal year' he was having, which was topped off with news he had been made an OBE.

David Lawrence, principal at Easton College, Norwich, was recognised for his services to land-based further and higher education in Norfolk.

Mr Lawrence, who was this year also made president of the Royal Norfolk Show, has worked at the college since 1989 and been principal since 1992. He stressed his achievement were part of a team effort.

'I'm very humbled to receive it but I do take it as an acknowledgement of my colleagues' efforts and all my staff,' he said. 'People are proud of this institution and that's really, really important. At the start it was very hard work – it lost its way a bit – but after 20 years of collective effort, people are now saying 'look what we've done'. I have been very, very fortunate to be allowed to do this for as long as I have.'

This year's Birthday Honours include the re-introduction of the British Empire Medal, an accolade that has not been awarded since 1992. Today, Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire celebrates having some of the first to be given the BEM for 20 years.

Most Read

Derrick Vernall, of Horning, said his volunteer work as chairman of the village hall committee, reviving the Horning Bowls Club, and organising improvements to the village hall and a host of social activities including the recent jubilee celebrations, were simply a way to 'keep him out of mischief' since retirement.

The 77-year-old added: 'I'm proud. It came straight out of the blue.'

Also receiving the BEM, which was re-introduced to coincide with the Diamond Jubilee, is Carol Jacobs from the University of East Anglia.

The BEM is awarded for civil or military service, and is, in Mrs Jacobs' case, recognition for her work with student support services.

Mrs Jacobs, 59, from Bawdeswell, said: 'You plod along doing what you do and this comes along. To know that what I have been doing all these years has been noticed is amazing.'

Christine Bird, a tireless fundraiser for local churches and supporter of local health services, is one of the first Suffolk recipients of BEM.

The 76-year-old is the chairman of the Friends of Eye Surgery and has led fundraising campaigns for the parish churches in Brome and Eye.

'I was absolutely shocked and I feel extremely humbled to think that someone thinks I'm worth anything. It is friendship and teamwork that makes life worth living and I love people and I have enjoyed everything I do,' she said.

Dee Gent, who helped set up the Rainbow Centre at Marham, has been awarded the British Empire Medal for services to the RAF.

The nursery, which has more than 400 children on its books and cares for up to 250 of them at a time, was opened by the Queen in 2004.

'I'm very honoured that I was put forward and chosen,' said Mrs Gent, 53, who lives at Denver, near Downham Market.

Mrs Gent was one of a number of West Norfolk people to be named on the honours list.

Former royal protection officer, 65-year-old David Reeve was made an MBE for services to the community.

He has given 400 talks to various groups and charities throughout Norfolk and Cambridgeshire in his spare time and since retiring from the police service.

The Dersingham resident was also a founder member and chairman of the first Victim Support Scheme in Norfolk in 1982.

Mr Reeve said: 'I was in the garden when I opened the letter and I just couldn't believe it - it completely knocked me for six.

'After retiring from the force, it was nice to have the opportunity to do some work for charities and give talks about my time in the force. It has enabled me to give something back to the community.'

Keith Banham, farm manager on the Royal Estate at Sandringham, was awarded a Royal Victorian Order while John Cole, from Dersingham, has been made an MBE for services to the community in and around King's Lynn.

Father-of-four Mr Cole, 76, took early retirement from his job as an electrical engineer 21 years ago to concentrate on volunteering.

He has devoted his time to the Hunstanton Talking Newspaper, the REMAP charity, which makes equipment to assist disabled people, the Citizen's Advice Bureau and AGE UK's Money Matters project.

Mr Cole, who was also involved in the scouting movement, said: 'I'm extremely honoured. It's not something when you started doing volunteering work many years ago that you expect.'

In Gunton, near Cromer, renowned architect Kit Martin has been made a CBE for his restoration services to British heritage. Since the 1970s Mr Martin, a projects consultant to the Prince's Regeneration Trust, has specialised in the saving and restoration of country houses by dividing them into smaller dwellings and apartments.

Mr Martin has restored and converted around twelve houses and historic buildings, including his home, Gunton Park, in north Norfolk and St Nicholas Royal Naval Hospital in Great Yarmouth.

The 65-year-old said: 'I find what I do extremely interesting and I have loved being involved with historic and listed buildings.'

Ian Duckmanton, who has devoted his career to improving life for children under five and their families in north Norfolk, becomes an OBE,

Mr Duckmanton, 43, from Catfield, near Great Yarmouth, was working for the charity Action For Children in 2003 when the government SureStart scheme was launched and he was appointed programme manager in the north Norfolk area.

During the following five years Mr Duckmanton established 'from scratch' the Poppyland SureStart Centres in Mundesley, Cromer, North Walsham and Stalham and estimates he and his team have now helped some 1,000 families.

Mr Duckmanton said he was passionate about helping children and viewed the honour as a 'massive privilege.'

In Great Yarmouth, Brian Potter, chairman of Potters Leisure Resort at Hopton-on-Sea, is made an MBE for services to tourism.

He said: 'I am honoured, having been at the sharp end of tourism for 50 years, and I owe a debt of gratitude to the millions of guests and many staff who have supported our constant re-investment and re-invention of the Potters Tourism product into the new millennium.'

Mr Potter said his family, who began the holiday centre 92 years ago, would have been proud of the acknowledgement.

Among the community stalwarts in Norwich to get recognition for their years of hard work and dedication is Di Burroughs, pastoral care manager at West Earlham Junior School, who is made an MBE for services to education.

The 50-year-old, who has worked at the Scarnell Road school for 13 years, said she had been convinced it was a hoax when the letter first arrived.

The modest mother-of-two, who lives in West Earlham, said: 'I love the school and I love the kids. I've worked here a lot of years and it's been hard at times – we've been in special measures and come out of special measures – but I just love it.'

Also recognised is Sian Larrington, services manager for the Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust's children's centres, and former leader at the Bowthorpe, West Earlham and Costessey Children's Centre.

The 47-year-old, who lives in the Swaffham area, was made an MBE for services to children and said she was 'absolutely delighted and really proud to accept the honour'.

Prof Victor Morris from the Institute of Food Research has been made an MBE for services to food science. The 67-year-old said: 'The format of the awards seems to say that it is for a contribution to society, and as a scientist you work and work and you hope that what you are doing makes a difference. This suggests that we have.'

In South Norfolk, a man who has dedicated his life to helping disabled and disadvantaged children has been made an OBE in the Queen's birthday honours.

Simon Moores, who lives in Ketteringham, near Wymondham, has been an active supporter of the NSPCC for around 20 years. In 1995, he set up the Ellerdale Trust to give financial support to charities that help young people.

The 56-year-old said he hoped he had enough time to get a new suit made before being presented with the honour.

'The trust brings a lot of happiness and hope to children and it makes me feel good. As far as I'm concerned, it is part of my life and I shall carry on with it,' he said.

In Suffolk Simon Ash, the chief constable of Suffolk police, has been given the Queen's Police Medal in the birthday honours list.

Mr Ash became chief constable for the county in June 2007 after rising through the ranks at Kent and Hertfordshire police forces.

He said: 'It is a real honour to receive this award and it has been a privilege to lead Suffolk Constabulary for the last five years.'

Also among those honoured are: Alison Cox who becomes an OBE for services to the community in the UK and overseas; Anna Gill, former co-chairman of Norfolk Children's Learning Difficulty and Disability Board, who is made an OBE for services to children and families; and Martyn Price, apprenticeship ambassador, who is made a MBE for services to skills.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter